1930s Stearman With a Storied History Returns to the Skies

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

A Stearman Model 4E Speedmail has made its first post-restoration flight following a five-year stem to stern restoration by Jim Kimball Enterprises of Zellwood, Florida. The plane which was constructed in 1929 is currently owned by display pilot Sarah Wilson and is the oldest air-worthy example of this this model. The plane was originally owned by the Richfield Oil Company and was used as a promotional tie-in for the company’s sponsorship of “The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen“, a popular serial radio show of the period that followed the exploits of a fictional 16-year old pilot as he traveled the world in his 4E, solving crimes, competing in air races and in later episodes he became a “G-Man”, working for the FBI.

The radio show was quite popular, and at its peak boasted 600,000 members of the “Jimmie Allen Flying Club” who received weekly newsletters as well as various other promotional items like puzzles and “Secret Service whistles” if they showed their membership credentials at their local Richfield Oil station. Complimenting the various promotions, the plane made appearances at “Jimmie Allen Air Races”, attended by tens of thousands of people, where an actual 16-year old actor would appear as Jimmie Allen which was necessary as the person who voiced the character for the radio show was in actuality a man well into middle age.

The program ended up being syndicated for broadcast across America as well as in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, sponsored by local business concerns which used the program’s promotional tie-ins to drive the children of potential customers to their stores to receive the latest promotional give-away promised exclusively to members of “The Jimmie Allen Flying Club.”


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